Johannes: On days like these

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The 2012-2013 group of Northwest Community College Initiative (NWCCI) students graduated and departed the United States in June 2013. In August, we welcomed the 2013-2014 NWCCI cohort to our campuses. We are excited to hear how well are alumni are doing now that they’ve returned home, and are equally looking forward to getting to know the new group of students. With all of the excitement of orientation, this poem by Johannes Malebana, an alumni from South Africa who studied at Whatcom Community College, reminded us of just how quickly an academic year in the United States passes for our students. We hope it serves as inspiration for the new students. 

On days like these

Three quarters we sat
Elbow to elbow
Ink to paper
Paper to grade, we sat

Bellowing from the foot of the financial aid office to the corridors of our grand classes

Shouting from the edge of our finger-tips
like this was the last day and the only moment we had to mend our broken wings and our broken dreamsIMG_6460 (1)

Today we stand
in our caps and gowns we pat our backs
pound our chests & bow to the warriors that reside within us

The warriors that single-handedly fought and won the war of educational knowledge
and economic development
for our developing countries
without any ammunition or nuclear
Just us
our broken English and our pride

We took to the stage one scholar after another
like the queen receiving her diamond jubilee; we received the torches that will ignite the ambers in our chests into fires

DSCN2199 (1)For us
for me, if I may
it felt like 1862
when the 13th amendment was signed

Along with this credential,
may a beam of butterflies migrate to our guts and the fireflies in our stomachs buzz hunger away

May each day feel like the end of a grey month
when a blue-collar is queuing behind half of the country’s population for
what is meant to bring
happiness and joy to a family of six,
four blocks down boulevard

On days like these

May you be whom you were meant to be,

A bee hive that dribbles honey
a memorial; monumental and motionless

May songs echo in tune with the beat of your heart

May you dance like the village Queen who gave birth to a baby boy

May you dance like dancing was the only way to restore peace

Like the streets were on fire1003262_562035860513251_1625231772_n (1)
and you and your boom box belonged to the streets
and the only way to put out the fire was by doing the one two step

May you and the young boys and girls from your block time travel into young men and women and rejoice in unison like Sunday morning

May you have a heart of an orchestra
to harmonize the inner-city stereotypes about dreamers and their dreams

Have feet that will take you places with both hands stretched out in front of you
like you could feel the future with your palms

May the future be a safe neighbourhood to your mansion goals

3 thoughts on “Johannes: On days like these

  1. I was so incredibly moved by Johannes’ words the night of the Farewell Party. His use of a language from a culture he’d only been a part of for 9 months showed such a sensitivity that it was hard to believe. Please come back to us soon, Johannes, you filled our lives with beauty.

  2. Pingback: Johannes: Climbing Kilimanjaro | Northwest Community College Initiative

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